Main Opposition parties yet to commit to campaign for ‘Yes’ vote in forthcoming referendums

Sinn Féin to meet next week to determine approach, while Labour, Social Democrats and People Before Profit all tabling amendments to proposed wording

Ireland’s main Opposition parties will not yet offer a commitment to campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in forthcoming referendums on care and family.

At least three of the parties will attempt to change the wording of questions to be put to the people in March when the legislation on the referendums returns to the Dáil next week.

Sinn Féin is to hold a meeting next week to determine its approach to its referendum campaign.

Labour, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit all want the forms of care that would be recognised in the Constitution expanded beyond the Government’s proposal, which is centred on care within families.


Under the Coalition’s plans, a Yes vote would see the current controversial language on women’s “duties in the home” deleted.

It is also proposing to insert new language that would see recognition of care “by members of a family to one another” and that the State “shall strive to support such provision”.

Separate amendments put forward by Labour, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit propose that care “outside the home” or “within the wider community” also be recognised in the Constitution.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said her party was waiting to see how the Government responded to its suggested amendments before deciding on its position for the referendum campaign.

She said: “We’re very concerned that the Government wording, particularly on the care referendum, is so narrowly defined and so weak that we won’t be able to see a way to support it.”

A Social Democrats spokesman said removing “anachronistic language” on ‘women in the home’ was “long overdue”.

However, the party has concerns that the care proposal “is not as ambitious as it should be”.

It will decide its level of engagement in the referendum campaigns in the coming weeks.

People Before Profit’s amendment to the care referendum wording proposes an obligation on the State to “provide the necessary resources to support care within and outside the home and family”.

A spokesman said it was “insulting to carers to fob them off with vague language that the State will ‘strive to support’ care and even then only if it’s family care”.

Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman’s spokesman said “every amendment to the Constitution is meaningful” and the Coalition’s wording “clearly signals the intention of the Government to make serious and sustained efforts to support family care”.

In the other referendum, also due to be held on March 8th, the Government is separately proposing new wording on families in the Constitution to change the text to define the family as “whether founded on marriage or on other durable relationships”.

The Coalition parties – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party – will all be actively campaigning for a Yes vote in both referendums.

  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times